USS Humphreys (DD-236/ APD-12)

USS Humphreys (DD-236) was a Clemson class destroyer that took part in the campaign in the Aleutians, New Guinea, New Britain, the Admiralty Islands, the return to the Philippines and Okinawa.

The Humphreys was named after Joshua Humphreys, a ship builder who helped produce the frigate Randolph during the American War of Independence, and helped design and build the over-sized frigates that won famous victories early in the War of 1812.

The Humphreys was built by the New York Shipbuilding Co of Camden, N.J. She was launched on 28 July 1919 and commissioned on 21 July 1920.

USS Humphreys (DD-236) refueling from the Lexington, 1934
USS Humphreys (DD-236)
refueling from the
, 1934

After her shakedown cruise the Humphreys left for the Mediterranean on 14 August 1920. She spent the next year operating in the eastern Mediterranean, off Palestine, Turkey and Egypt, working as a survey ship, station ship and communications ship. In November 1920 she was one of a number of US ships that were sent to Sevastopol to help evacuate refugees after the city was besieged by the Bolshevik forces that had defeated Baron Wrangel’s White Army. Anyone who served on her and landed at Ismir from 28 June-3 July 1921 qualified for the Turkey Expeditionary Medal. On 6 August 1921 she left Constantinople to leave to the United States, arriving on 23 August 1921.

The Humphreys spent the next few years taking part in the normal routine of fleet life in the Atlantic and Caribbean. On 21 January 1925 she departed for San Diego, and in the spring took part in fleet manoeuvres off the California coast, before returning to the East Coast in June. Anyone who landed at Nicaragua between 21-22 November 1926 qualified for the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal. Most of her time was spent on the normal routine of fleet life, with summers off the East Coast and winters in the Caribbean. She also took part in the annual reserve training cruises in the summer of 1926 to 1929. The Humphreys was decommissioned on 10 January 1930.
The Humphreys was recommissioned on 13 June 1932 and rejoined the normal life of the fleet. In August 1932 she departed for the West Coast to take part in exercises. The Dictionary of American Fighting Ships states that she took part in two Fleet Problems while in the Pacific, but that doesn’t fit with the dates of the actual exercises. Fleet Problem XIII for 1932 was over by the time she arrived. She would have taken part in Fleet Problem XIV in February 1933, but she left for New York on 19 April 1934, the month before Fleet Problem XV began in Hawaii. On her return to the East Coast the Humphreys resumed her normal training operations, taking part in an exercise off Haiti in October 1934. She then returned to the Pacific, arriving at San Diego on 8 November 1934. In 1935 she acted as a screen ship and plane guard during a series of carrier training exercises that helped develop the tactics that would be used against the Japanese. The Humphreys remained active along the West Coat until she was decommissioned again on 14 September 1938.

The Humphreys was recommissioned on 26 September 1939 after the outbreak of the Second World War. On 13 November she departed from San Diego to join the Neutrality Patrol in the Caribbean. In May-June 1940 she took part in a sound school at Newport, to prepare her for anti-submarine warfare. On 4 December she departed for San Diego, and during 1941 she took part in the West Coast Neutrality Patrol and took part in further anti-submarine training. She was at San Diego when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.


In the early months of 1942 the Humphreys served as a coastal escort ship between San Pedro and Seattle. In May she left for Kodiak, Alaska, arriving on 31 May, She was used to escort transports between the Aleutian Islands and took part in exercises with the Honolulu and Indianapolis.

In August 1942 the Humphreys took part in the bombardment of Kiska Island and the invasion of Adak, as the Americans expelled the Japanese from the area.

On 11 November the Humphreys returned to San Francisco to be converted into a high speed transport.The work was completed very quickly – she was reclassified as APD-12 on 1 December 1942 and reached Pearl Harbor on 31 December!


On 22 January 1943 the Humphreys sailed for Noumea. She was used to ferry troops and supplies to Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Florida Island. During this period she was repeated attacked by Japanese aircraft.

On 11 February 1943 she left Guadalcanal as part of the escort for the tanker Patuxent, which had just delivered aviation fuel to Guadalcanal.

On 23 February the Humphreys landed part of a force of Marine Raiders on Pavuvu Island in the Russell Islands.

On 26 February the Stringham had to take evasive action to avoid colliding with the Humphreys while she was attempting to manoeuvre off a reef at Pepasala Bay in the Russell Islands. The Stringham damaged her starboard propeller in the incident and had to return to the US for repairs.


USS Humphreys (APD-12) at Leyte Gulf, 21 October 1944 USS Humphreys (APD-12) at Leyte Gulf, 21 October 1944

On 29 February 1944 the Humphreys landed troops at Hyane on Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands. She landed reinforcements in the same area in early March.

In April the Humphreys took part in the landings at Hollandia, New Guinea. She landed troops at Humboldt Bay on 22 April and then provided gun support.

On 12 May the Humphreys sailed for the United States, reaching San Francisco on 30 May. She was modified to allow her to operate with Underwater Demolition Teams, Navy divers used to dismantle beach defences off the Japanese held islands. After a period of training around Hawaii, she returned to the fleet in late September ready for the invasion of Leyte.

On 18 October she operated with UDT 5 off the Leyte Beaches, to carry out reconnaissance. On 19-20 October she was used on anti-submarine patrols, before the main landings on 20 October. On 21 October she shared a claim for shooting down a Japanese bomber, before departing for Manus. 


On 1 January 1945 the Humphreys departed from the Palau Islands with the invasion fleet heading to Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. She came under repeated air attack during the voyage, before reaching the Gulf on 6 January. Her UDT began operations on 7 January, while the Humphreys provided anti-aircraft support. She supported the main landings on 9 January, then departed for Ulithi as part of the escort of a convoy on 10 January.

USS Humphreys (APD-12) lowering a UDT at Okinawa
USS Humphreys (APD-12)
lowering a UDT at Okinawa

She arrived at Ulithi on 23 January 1945, and joined the escort forces protecting the replenishment ships that supported the carrier strike forces. During the invasion of Iwo Jima she was used to screen the refueling operations for the 5th Fleet’s carriers, before moving to Iwo Jima to join the screen on 8 March. She remained there until 17 March when she left as part of the escort of a convoy heading to Leyte.

On 31 March the Humphreys took part in the invasion of Keise Shima, one of the preliminaries to the invasion of Okinawa. She then performed local escort duties until 3 April when she sailed for Ulithi to take on supplies (with the Sims (APD-50) and Ringness (APD-100).

The Humphreys was then used to escort resupply convoys heading from Ulithi to Okinawa, before returning to Pearl Harbor for the last time on 4 June 1945. She then returned to San Diego, where she returned to her DD-236 classification on 20 July 1945. She was decommissioned on 26 October 1945 and sold for scrap on 26 August.

Humphreys received seven battle stars for World War II service, for Eastern New Guinea (Lae, Finschaffen and Saidor), the Bismarck Archipelago (Arawe, Cape Gloucester and the Admiralty Islands), Leyte landings, Lingayen Gulf, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Hollandia.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)


2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)


2,500nm at 20kts (design)


314ft 4in


30ft 10.5in


Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement



28 July 1919


21 July 1920

Sold for scrap

26 August 1946

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 August 2019), USS Humphreys (DD-236/ APD-12) ,

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